A Field Day!

It’s a Field Day for my Lace Wars legion! At the suggestion of Suburban Militarism friend and follower Markus Sharaput, I thought I’d parade my 2020 vintage War of the Spanish Succession troops as an indication of overall progress:

The Royal Scots – “Damn forward fellows with a bayonet!”
The Regiment de Champagne advance with typical French elan.
The Foot Guards convincingly demonstrate that frilly lace is no defence against hot lead.
Right back at you! The 1st Poitou let loose a shattering volley in reply.
Ooops, looks like somebody forgot to load and is hastily putting it right…
The Foot Guards prepare to halt the onward advance of the Champagne.
The Regiment de Montfort in action. Their black flag reminds me that I really need to get around to finishing something…
Patiently awaiting a flurry of lead ball are men of Sankey’s Regiment.

Well, the good news for the French is that reinforcements are on their way! As I type this, another regiment of white-coated Gallic infantry is already well advanced with paint. More on that anon…

Mounted (and Unmounted) Infantry

This is just a short update being as this is the very last day – indeed the very last hours – of the ‘paint what you already own’ challenge by Ann’s Immaterium blog. I’ve not completed them to deadline, but considering they were started after I’d first finished Napoleon’s Old Guard mid-month, I’ve made good progress.

Detail on these HaT figures is a little vague here and there, but I’ve done my best to pick out as much as I can. Never HaT’s strongest point, the horses sculpting are acceptable rather than great, but they’ll do.

The Imperial Mounted Infantry would have looked a little rough and ready. In a muted painting style, I’ve tried to hint at this dusty and threadbare chic and also aim to add a little dust on to their boots when basing.

A private of the 90th Foot in the uniform of the Imperial Mounted Infantry.

Retaining his regimental tunic, he wears corduroy riding breeches, a leather bandolier instead of a belt, riding boots with spurs and carries a Swinburne-Henry carbine.


In my squadron, I’ve included representatives from some of the different regiments which supplied 1st squadron, Imperial Mounted Infantry with troops: mostly the 24th Foot (green facings) and the 80th, (red with yellow collar tabs), but also a few from the 3rd Foot (buff), and the 13th Light Infantry (dark blue).

The mounted poses look perfect for vedettes and scouts, a key role of the MI. Virtually all of their fighting would have been done on foot as infantry, so it’s good there’s some nice dismounted poses too.

This rediscovered old box of figures seems to be missing five horses and until I find replacements, some will have to remain ‘unmounted mounted infantry’:

“Which way to the remount depot…?’

So, they’re not based yet and I may even stall that process until I find some extra horses for them but I’ve glued some on to spare off-cuts of plastic card ready for when I do! At least, after nearly a decade, these accidental equestrians have finally been painted!

Hopefully, an improvement from my first attempt?

Foot Soldiers on Horseback

Sorting through my piles of unpainted plastic men in the loft, I came across a box of figures which I’d forgotten about completely. These were amongst the very earliest figures I’d bought when I first decided to attempt painting 1:72 scale plastic figures back in 2011/12.

It was a box of HaT’s British Mounted Infantry of the Zulu Wars. I’d clearly had a little go at putting some paint on some of them but had abandoned progress at some point, possibly when I moved house. Some paint was more or less in the right place but there was none of the painting techniques which I’d gradually developed since then – no black lining, no shading and no highlighting either.

I’d also been a bit lazy with the colour of my facings, opting solely for the 24th Regiment’s green. In reality, the Mounted Infantry drew its men from across many different regiments and the troops retained the tunics and buttons of each meaning their individual regimental facings could be any colour.

Mindful of the April challenge by Ann’s Immaterium, I thought it might be about time to have a proper go at this neglected box. Whether I’ll get them painted by the end of the month is now very debatable but at least I’ll be making a start on them. I seem to be missing a horse from the set, but otherwise it’s all there.

Coincidentally, I had been re-reading some of my many books on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879:

  • “Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift” by Ian Knight
  • “Blood on the Painted Mountain” by Ron Lock (about the battles of Intombi, Hlobane and Khambula)

From these books, I had been refreshing my knowledge of the Imperial Mounted Infantry before I’d even discovered these HaT figures. The formation had a tough time of it during the Anglo-Zulu War. With a chronic lack of regular cavalry available in South Africa, they were much in demand, being active in many encounters with the Zulu all over the country. 1st Squadron suffered particularly badly at the disaster of iSandlwana.

First off, I needed to prime them. For years I’ve painted with Vallejo Acrylics but with these figures I was still using the old Humbrol enamel tinlets. So, I attempted to remove any loose enamel paint (which by and large seemed very well attached to the figures). I then painted them in PVA white glue to a) act as a primer and, b) cover over the enamel. I’ve heard that acrylic paint can react badly to enamels. I’m not sure of this at all but I thought that the PVA would also at least form some sort of a barrier between them.

After that, it was on with the black primer paint and I’m ready to finally finish off what I’d started nearly a decade ago! I’ve made some real progress over the weekend so a report will follow…


For those who may be interested, here are some of my other favourite books on the Zulu War which I’ve collected over the years and which I’d recommend:

  • “The Washing of the Spears” by Donald R. Morris. The seminal work on the conflict which brought it to 20th Century popularity. Never intended to be an academic work, it has been eclipsed now by modern research but is still an astonishingly rip-roaring read throughout all its hefty 672 pages.
  • “Zulu Rising” by Ian Knight– Ian Knight’s most recent book on Isandlwana/Rorke’s Drift and packed with the detailed knowledge and passion of many years research. It is particularly strong in its understanding of both Zulu and Natal’s black history and culture.
  • “Fearful Hard Times” by Ian Knight. Focusing on the less well known actions of Number 1 Column including the battles of Nyezane and Gingindlovu, and the siege of Eshowe.
  • “The Zulu War: A Pictorial History” by Michael Barthorp. The first book I read on the conflict including many great contemporary photographs. I met Major Barthorp a few times – a wonderfully kind and very generous man to this teenage history geek.
  • “They Fell Like Stones” by John Young. Detailed lists and information on units and casualties for each battle. Great for data nerds like yours truly!
  • “Black Soldiers of the Queen” by P.S. Thompson. About the Natal Native Contingent in the conflict, providing a great understanding of these seriously undervalued and overlooked African soldiers who fought and died for the British cause.

Lord Orkney’s Regiment of Foot

I’m starting to find some very useful information about British regiments at the time of the War of the Spanish Succession. A website called The Spanish Succession is dedicated to the WSS and has lots of great and detailed information even on individual regiments including my chosen one; Orkney’s Regiment. The “oldest regiment in the British armed forces” had it’s roots far back in the Swedish army of Gustavus Adolphus of all things!

Ironically, my War of the Spanish Succession regiment even fought for the French army until Charles II ‘asked for it back’ in 1688. This regiment fought in all the major battles of the Duke of Marlborough and around this time became known as ‘The Royal Regiment’.

The Earl of Orkney, who gave him his name to the regiment, was appointed to it’s colonelcy 1692. An experienced soldier, he notably led the final assault at the Battle of Blenheim on the village leading eight battalions of troops before then receiving the final surrender of the French there.

By Martin Maingaud – Public Domain.

I also found some information on Pinterest about the flags carried into battle by the Royal Regiment / Orkney’s Regiment. My previous regiment had an English flag but being a Scottish regiment, the Orkney’s national flag was carried instead of the Union flag at this time. The design is shown below:

Once again, I had to endure the horrors of painting folded flag drapes. I might neaten up those white lines, but here is the result:

Orkney’s Regiment is described in my copy of “The Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough’s Wars” as having red coats, white facings, grey breeches and yellow lace on the tricornes. The facings later became blue possibly as early as the end of the 17th century but sources depict them still with white cuffs during the Marlburian period. Certainly, artist Bob Marrion preferred to illustrate the regiment with white facings in the aforementioned book.

R.J. Marrion’s illustration of a man of Orkney’s Regiment of Foot (book cover).

The figures I’m using are still from Strelets “advancing” set of British infantry figures. Sankey’s Regiment were all marching with arms at the slope, but Orkney’s men are all charging forward with their bayonets ready.

Though the box is finished, Orkney’s Regiment is lacking an officer and also a grenadier company. I’ve ordered more boxes of this series, however, so I can open another and attend to the shortfall in due course!

Lace Wars: Sankey’s Soldiers

The War of the Spanish Succession, indeed much the 18th century’s so-called ‘lace wars’, have been significantly overlooked in plastic at 1/72 scale until Strelets began to put things right towards the end of last year. At time of writing, Strelets have four sets slated for release:

  • British Infantry in Advance (1701-1714)
  • British Infantry in Attack (1701-1714)
  • British Infantry Firing Line (1701-1714)
  • French Fusiliers (Early War)

The first two have been released and the first set has already found its way to Suburban Militarism. This “in Advance” set includes around 20 marching figures and a similar number again advancing with the point of the bayonet – I’ve started with the marching boys.

I’ve been struggling to find Marlburian uniform information on specific regiments on the net, so I may have to turn to actual ye olde books for more info. Eventually, I turned to one of my postcards which was part of a set bought from The Keep Museum in Dorchester about the Devonshire and Dorsetshire Regiments.

The postcard shows an illustration by Rob Chapman of a soldier from Sankey’s Regiment in 1718 (regiments being named at the time after their colonel). Depicted just after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession on ‘sea service’, they would later be numbered as the 39th Regiment of Foot.

I was attracted to painting this regiment by the green facings, yet my copy of W.Y. Carman’s “Richard Simkin’s Uniforms of the British Infantry Regiments” tells me that for this regiment “no distinctive facings may be quoted before 1742” but does have this to say on their subsequent green facings when :

“…pale green was used for the facings and waistcoat. The green was later named as ‘willow green’, ‘popinjay’, ‘light green’ and other variations, no doubt because a fixed shade of green was hard to find in those days when dyes changed under battle conditions.”

In the end, I’ve been happy to go with the illustration and (in the spirit of those endless shades of green that they enjoyed) have given them some lime green facings, to match Rob Chapman’s illustration.

My marching figures are now about 90% finished, but you will note that some work does still remain to be done. This grenadier company above, for example, are still awaiting some attention to their grenadier caps. No idea what the actual caps looked like but I’m thinking some more of that lime green and some other detailing might do the trick.

Also on the march are some sergeants carrying halberds and a couple of officers too wearing their gorgets. The ensign has a black flag which needs painting in some manner too:


Sankey’s Regiment: A brief history

This regiment was orignally named “Colonel Coote’s Regiment” when it was raised in 1702. The said Colonel Richard Coote however was soon to die in a duel to be succeeded by Colonel Sankey, whose name the Regiment then took. Though missing out on all of Marlborough’s great battles of the war, they still campaigned in the Low Countries, France, Germany, Spain and North America. At the battle of Almanza, the regiment mounted mules to earn the ironic nickname “Sankey’s Horse”. After the war, having been raised as infantry and later serving as psuedo-cavalry when mounted on mules, the men found then found themselves acting as marines when on ‘sea-service’!


The remainder of the box I intend to paint up as a different British regiment, though I’ve yet to decide upon which one. Another aspect on my mind is for me a somewhat novel approach to basing, but more on that in another post.

Scarecrows Assemble! Queen Vicstrawia and her Grainadier

Queen Vic-straw-ia and her Grainadier Guard, my family’s submission to a local village scarecrow-making competition is complete and ready for the crowds of people that visited the displays last year. My wife and daughter created Her Majesty (a very fine job indeed, I’m sure you’ll agree) and I made the guardsman (naturally enough).

In my last post I had finished making the head out of papier mache. Next, I stuffed his uniform with straw and stuck his head to a cardboard tube.

For a belt, I’ve stuck some white paper on to one of my old belts. I notice that the buttons on my uniform are grouped in threes which therefore makes it a Scots Guard! No plume is worn by that regiment, just a bearskin, so that made it easier for me.

That bearskin won’t pass parade at that rakish angle! I need to attend to that before the big day.

For the rifle, I’ve borrowed some (toy) military hardware from the young son of a friend – on the understanding that it is returned to him in the same condition. So, as some temporary modifications I’ve used some brown paper to cover what was a bright green plastic stock. I’m intending to make it less like a lime-green Space Marine’s assault rifle and a tiny bit more like a .303 Lee-Metford or Short Magazine Lee Enfield. The orange end of the barrel seen in the photos above I’ve since covered in black tape.

Straw ankles in tights and beach shoes? The Sergeant-Major will have your guts for garters, laddie!

The hands were a late addition. I was hoping for skin coloured marigolds or maybe white gloves but they’ll have to do. A couple of sturdy wooden poles up the legs and hammered into the ground will, I’m hoping, keep the whole thing upright and standing to attention!

My daughter and I with our handiwork.

Wait a minute – what’s this just around the corner from our pitch…?

Goddammit! Another one! And we’re gonna need a bigger bearskin! I’m seeing four buttons on the tunic and yet there’s no blue plume? Pah! Clearly these amateurs don’t know the Irish Guards uniform very well… 😉

As a final flourish, I’m planning to play “Soldiers of the Queen” on repeat from my military band music collection. Hopefully, Queen Vicstrawia and the Guardsman might even attract a few votes from the visitors to the competition? Wish us luck!

And I thought the sun never set on Victoria’s empire?

Queen ‘Vicstrawia’ and her ‘Grainadier’ Guard

My in-laws live in a village which holds a scarecrow competition each year. This year the girls and I thought we’d help out and make our own for them. For those unfamiliar with this kind of competition – see this example. Bad puns for the scarecrows are a feature of this kind of festival. The theme for the scarecrow contest this year was “Best of British”.

We elected to help out the in-laws and create this year’s scarecrows. My wife and daughter thought they might create Queen Vicstrawia in her iconic seated pose from late in her reign. I immediately suggested she needed a military escort, her very own Grainadier Guard!

Luckily, I managed to pick up a child’s Guardsman costume for only £5. Dating from the 1960s, it’s in perfect condition and is fabulously well made using quality materials (no plastic buttons here – metal only).

There’s some nice detailing on the back too…

First off, I needed to make a head. So a bit of papier-mâché, using a balloon as a template, I hoped would do the trick. Not done this before and my first attempt was a bit of a let down – literally! The balloon had a slow puncture and gradually went down leaving the head ended up all shrunken and wrinkled…

My second attempt came good. Getting into my papier-mâché stride, I added a rudimentary nose, brows and ears…

I slapped on a little poster paint and then started to think about hair. A trip into town to the charity shops allows me to track down some cheap, black felt material from a rags bin. I also find a thin, feathery, black boa which will do for facial hair. Et voila, we have a guardsman’s face!

I see my scaling for the head has – ah – somewhat overestimated the much smaller bearskin! Never mind, I’m pleased with it and ‘comical’ is what I’m after. But now I’ve got to somehow attach that head to the body… but before that I’ve also got to create and stuff the arms and legs… and then the whole thing will need to magically stand to attention!

This scarecrow building is harder than I thought it would be. Wish me luck!

The 37th Stands at Ease…

Based and almost ready for action: men of the 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot stand at ease.

Prior to basing, they experienced a pre-emptive strike by my young cat, Marnie. She accidentally knocked them all off the table and they consequently suffered a little from a hard landing on the kitchen floor. I’ve tried to cover over areas of chipped paint but a few areas inevitably have been missed, I’m afraid.

I like the individuality of the figures, I’m particularly fond of this little private conversation going on in the rear rank…

“So, let me get this straight. We ‘ere because we ‘ere?…”
The scene just moments before an irritated Pioneer Sergeant swings his axe behind him.

The 37th Regiment featured in many significant campaigns and battles of the 18th century, including the battles of Blenheim, Quebec, Dettingen, Culloden, and Brandywine, amongst others. It spent much of the Napoleonic Wars on garrison duty in the West Indies and Gibraltar but did, however, serve in the closing stages of the Peninuslar War in 1814 where it won a battle honour.

It was absent from the Waterloo campaign, being sent for service in Canada. So perhaps it’s quite appropriate that these Waterloo-era figures to appear in such a casual and relaxed state?

As we are in Spring here in the UK, I’ve based them in a springlike meadow with flowers and lush grass. Bees are buzzing and birds are singing in this pastoral lull with the thought of hostilities far from their minds.

Below, a private in the rear rank seems more interested in the pleasures of the baggage train to the rear than any enemy to the front…

Tricky to pick out the details but nevertheless great fun to do. I’ve still got some officers to share for this group, whenever I get around to finishing them.

For a fabulous example of what can be achieved with this range of Strelets ‘non-combat’ figures, hop on over to Pat’s 1:72 Military Diorama’s
blog and view his Peninsular War “Retreat to Corunna” diorama – endlessly interesting and with nearly 270 figures, a damn sight more ambitious than my own little line up!

As for me, I do still have a couple of sprues spare and was thinking of producing some Rifle Brigade or Belgian Infantry figures sometime too.

British Personalities of the Crimean War II

Another instalment of my Personalities of the Crimean War series, featuring figures by Strelets:


Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan

The commander-in-chief of the British army in the Crimean War began his army career playing a full part in the Peninsular War. He later served in the Waterloo campaign as aide-de-camp and military secretary to Wellington. The carnage of the battle of Waterloo cost Somerset the amputation of his right arm.

Fenton’s photograph of Lord Raglan in the Crimea, 1855.

Somerset retained his close association with the Duke of Wellington and, having been promoted to Lieutenant-General during the years of peace after Waterloo, was appointed to command the British army in the Crimean campaign with a brevet rank of full General. In 1852, he was raised to the peerage and became known as the 1st Baron Raglan.

Success at the battles of Alma and Inkerman led to his promotion to Field Marshal, but as the privations of the Crimean winter took its toll on his men, Raglan began to receive criticism in the press, although whether it was entirely fair is debatable.

A poorly executed failed assault on the defences of Sevastopol piled the pressure on the commander and, being weakened by dysentery and a depressive illness, Raglan died whilst still on campaign in June 1855.

Raglan (left) in conference with Turkish Field Marshal Omar Pasha (centre) and French C-in-C, Marshal Pélissier.

Lieutenant General Sir Henry John William Bentinck

With both of Henry Bentinck’s brothers being generals, and his father a Major-General, senior command in the army was virtually a family business. Bentinck began his army service as an ensign in the Coldstream Guards and by 1841, he was an aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria and a brevet colonel.

Fenton’s haughty portrait of Bentinck, his cocked hat visible on the table.

By the time Bentinck landed in the Crimea with his regiment, he was a Major-General. He took part in the battles of Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman, being badly wounded in the arm in the latter. Despite the wound, he continued to serve in the siege of Sevastopol.

On his return from the Crimea, he was created a K.C.B. and promoted to the rank of General. Bentinck died in 1875.


Lieutenant General Sir Charles Ash Windham

The fourth son of an admiral, as with most of the generals featured in my British personalities series, Windham began his career in a prestigious guards regiment; the Coldstreams. From the rank of Ensign, he went on to purchase a series of promotions throughout the 1830s and 1840s.

Roger Fenton’s sensitive portrait of Charles Windham. He is depicted wearing a long scarlet coat. His light, patterned trousers appear distinctly non-regulation and I’ve painted them a generic light grey on my figure.

After service in Canada, Windham returned to England in 1842 where he remained until the outbreak of the Crimean War. Achieving his colonelcy in June 1854, he was then appointed Assistant Quartermaster General of the 4th Division for the campaign. He soon became renowned for making clear his stern criticism of the poor military leadership of the British army at this time.

At Sevastopol, he was given command of the main British attack on the Great Redan. The result was a failure in which he personally rode back to beg for more reinforcements to continue the assault which had achieved its objective but was ill-equipped to hold it. Windham received criticism from soldiers in his command but was made a popular hero by William Russell, the Times War Correspondent, who declared that Windham’s gallant conduct had saved “the honour of the army”.

Windham’s career continued to be dogged by controversy and mixed opinions as he served in the Indian Mutiny and in Canada until he eventually died while convalescing in Florida in 1870.

*Windham published a detailed diary of his experiences in the Crimean war, which the journalist Russell wrote an introduction to. An online copy is accessible from the Internet Archive here.


Major General James Bucknall Estcourt

The son of an M.P., James Estcourt’s first appointment in the army was as an Ensign in the 44th Regiment. Transferring to the 43rd Regiment, Estcourt served in Gibraltar and later on the Euphrates Valley Expedition. His services on this journey of science and exploration led to his promotion to Lt-Colonel.

Estcourt was photographed by Fenton a short time prior to his untimely death in the Crimea.

Successful service on a boundary commission in Canada and a friendship with Lord Raglan helped Estcourt, now a Brigadier-General, to be appointed Adjutant General for the campaign. However, together with General Airey, he was criticised by a press who considered them both responsible for the winter privations and terrible suffering of the troops.

Stoutly defended by Raglan, Estcourt was appointed Major-General in December 1854, despite the ongoing criticism. Ironically, he fell victim to the same insanitary conditions for which he was being held by some to be responsible and succumbed to cholera in June 1855.

According to the Dictionary of National Biography, his friend and mentor Lord Raglan was “afraid to attend the funeral, for fear of showing his grief; but the last visit he paid before his own death, was to Estcourt’s tomb.


Major General Sir Henry William Barnard

Sir Henry William Barnard obtained a commission in the 1st Foot Guards in 1814. A newly made Major-General, Barnard landed in the Crimea in 1854, in command of a brigade in the 3rd division of the army, with which he was present during the winter of 1854–5.

Fenton’s compelling photograph of Barnard with his foot on a shell, a stance imitated by Strelets.

Through their figure, Strelets have nicely referenced Roger Fenton’s above photograph of General Barnard posing with a foot on a shell. Whether or not the pose was deliberately made at Fenton’s request, by delicately resting his boot on the shell, the stance nicely suggests something of the violence and danger at the same time as the fragility of the combatants. It’s just one of the postures that Strelets have employed in their Crimean range that is really pleasing to me, painting becomes the act of bringing to life a brief moment from over 150 years ago.

When former chief-of-staff General Simpson succeeded to Commander-in-Chief, Barnard in turn became his chief-of-staff, a position he held at the fall of Sevastopol in September 1855. He later succeeded to the command of the 2nd Division.

In 1857, Barnard took an active command in the Indian Mutiny and won the crucial battle of Badli-ki-Serai but died of cholera on 5 July 1857, eleven weeks before the fall of Delhi to the British.

Another Fenton photograph of Barnard. He is shown ‘in a conference with his servants’.

A Final Touch

I thought my recently finished Cheshire Rifle Volunteers deserved some means of proclaiming who they are supposed to represent. The solution was both surprisingly cheap and easy to get hold of, I was pleased to discover. So here they are; my final photos of the Cheshire Greys now with an engraved plaque.

…And in the final pic, I reveal the identity of my next intended Rifle Volunteer group by plaque!

Rifles cheshire (1)

Rifles cheshire (2)

Rifles cheshire (4)
And I’ve a plaque already engraved for the next group of volunteer riflemen – the Robin Hood Rifles!